Perspectives on schooling and politics
In this opening chapter we explore some of the general problems of writing a critical study of post-war schooling. We do not want to produce, in advance, a general, formal theory of education, but to sketch some key features of our own approach. These have been formed in a three-sided engagement. We have learnt, first, from the theoretical debates of the last ten years, especially from the proliferation of sociologies of education, old and new, and from the revival of Marxist analysis. Second, we have drawn on these theories to the extent that they have helped us to make sense of the pattern of post-war changes. We have valued or criticized them for their explanatory power or weakness. Third, our approach has been formed by the very events we describe, especially, of course, by the developments of the 1970s. Like all students of social developments, we stand inside the social relations we describe, not outside them. We have consciously taken sides and have not held back from arguing political preferences. In particular, we have been influenced by a growing sense of the need for a more adequate socialist politics of education.